Taihape Turns On The Sunshine
By: Lance Hastie www.car.co.nz
A perfect day was pretty much the only way to describe the weather than graced the opening round of the Palmside Central Region Rally Series in Taihape.
The opening round of this year's rally season started with the BP Gumboot Taihape rally - a winter sport held in mid-summer like settings. The clear blue sky and intense sunlight gave way to what had been a wet and murky build up in the week prior to the event.
Starting at 9pm from the heart of Taihape, the cars enjoyed a brisk tour through the southern reaches of Taihape before the lunch break and traditional 'gumboot throwing' publicity stage.
During the morning, the sun had substantially absorbed any moisture that was keeping the dust at bay making the afternoon stages murky in the landlocked valleys.
Any breeze that did manage to sneak through was insignificant compared to the sheer pace that the cars blazed over the flowing county roads - leaving intense rooster tails of dust to mark their passing.
At the lunch break there was less that 11 seconds separating the top 5 drivers, leaving the competition after lunch to intensify as the cars tussled for supremacy.
Early retirements included the likes of Todd Bawden and Brian Green, with their day ending after the second of ten stages.
Battling at the front were the likes of Glenn Smith, Bruce Herbert, Wayne Parker and Sam Murray - who ultimate ended up finishing in that order.
By the close of the day less than a minute separated the first five drivers in the 135km of Special Stages.
Next round of the Palmside NZ Central Region Rally Series is the Taranaki Rally on the 19th of April.